Real-life tragedies often the source of haunted tales

Carmen Musick • Oct 30, 2010 at 2:09 AM

Each year, around this time, thousands of people flock to “haunted” attractions throughout the area to experience the hair-raising thrills and spine-tingling chills of a ghostly encounter. 
For Dr. Nancy Hamblen Acuff, Halloween is just another day. She deals in ghosts, myths and legends — and the history behind them — nearly every day of the year.The long-time Sullivan County historian and former East Tennessee State University psychology professor has hunted ghosts and spirits throughout the region for decades, making her one of the foremost experts in the folklore surrounding some of the area’s most haunted places.While urban legends are part of the fabric of most every community, and television shows and movies have sensationalized ghost stories and paranormal experiences, Acuff insists that the history behind many local tales is often more heart-wrenching and enthralling than the ghost stories themselves.“To me, the stories are so dynamic in themselves that if you really research them, you don’t need all that (sensationalism). They stand on their own. And if they don’t stand on their own, then you haven’t done your research,” Acuff said.“Many of the stories are so sad that we don’t want to even think about them. Quite often, these are tragedies and that’s why they’ve left such an emotional imprint — because they are tragedies, and you just don’t want to malign those people in any way.”Read the full report in the print edition or the enhanced electronic version of the Kingsport Times-News.

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